MHEDA Distributors and Suppliers Team Up To Solve Customer Challenges
MHEDA dealers and suppliers provide novel solutions to unique problems
By Steve Guglielmo
MHEDA members are known throughout the industry for taking on any challenge, big or small. But what differentiates a MHEDA member from other companies is the willingness and aptitude to tackle the unexpected obstacles. Unique challenges require unique solutions and our members have the experience to bring those solutions to life.
And that experience and expertise is backed up with the best products that the material handling industry has to offer and the unwavering support of the OEMs. With a MHEDA dealer and supplier in their corner, every vision can become a reality. These 2019 Sales Success Stories prove once again why MHEDA members are consistently recognized as the best of the best. If you have a story you’d like to share, please tweet us @MHEDA_Journal and @MHEDAOffice or submit your news at www.mheda.org.
New Distribution Center Maximizes Product Flexibility and Flow with Span-Track Wheel Beds
When Cutter & Buck decided to add a new distribution center in Canada, company leaders set out to create a fast, efficient and technologically savvy facility to service Canadian customers. “We wanted something fresh and innovative, because that’s the type of brand we are,” says Mark Alexander, Operations Manager, Cutter & Buck, Canada.
The center opened in Brampton, Ontario, in October 2017, fully equipped with state-of-the-art systems that allow a lean staff to pick from 1 million golf shirts, hoodies, rain jackets and other items across 25,000 distinct pick locations.
More than 4,000 Span-Track wheel beds help keep the high-tech operation wrinkle-free.
The Wow Factor
The high-ceilinged, 75,000-square-foot Brampton distribution center is near the Toronto Pearson International Airport, an ideal location for Cutter & Buck. Hundreds of customers have businesses within a 30-mile radius of the center. It’s not uncommon for customers to stop by and pick up their products for corporate outings, sales meetings, college events and more. They often want a tour of the impressive facility.
“When customers walk into the distribution center, the first things they see are the UNEX racks going up 30 feet and extending from one end to the next,” says Mark. “It’s a jaw-dropping experience for them. They always talk about how everything is extremely organized and clean. And that’s important, because it reflects our commitment to delivering the optimal experience.”
Each day, a small core team of Cutter & Buck employees pick, pack and ship multitudes of orders to Canadian customers. “We are exceeding performance expectations, largely because of the efficient systems we have in place,” says Mark. “The wheel beds are a big part of that picture.”
Buttoned Up and Ready to Grow
The Span-Track wheel beds are located in 42,000 square feet of the distribution center. The additional 33,000 square feet is slated for future growth of the Cutter & Buck business.
“The wheel beds maximize our warehouse space and give us lots of flexibility,” says Mark. “In fact, with the wheel beds and our other efficient systems, we could double our business without having to double the space footprint.”
Whether the Cutter & Buck team is adding new products or replenishing existing ones, Mark adds that SpanTrack helps keep the operation flowing. “It’s easy to replenish products from the back side. And when we do inventory, we don’t have to shut down the operations twice a year. Everything is well-organized and easy to count, so we can keep track of inventory on a daily basis without disrupting the pick.”
The Right Fit
The distributor who recommended Span-Track says the solution was just the right fit for Cutter & Buck. “The wheel beds are well-engineered. They are strong, durable, reliable and easy to install,” says Ross Shepherd with 3D Storage Solutions Limited.
He adds that an additional benefit is working with UNEX. “It’s a worry-free experience. And that’s important for companies like 3D Storage Solutions and Cutter & Buck. We need efficiency in our operations so that we can focus on growth.”
Creating the Best Place to Work
Cutter & Buck was founded in 1989 in Seattle, Washington. Like the current Seattle location, the Brampton operation must compete with a number of major distribution centers for employees, such as Coca-Cola and Amazon.
“Recruiting an exceptional staff can be a challenge,” explains Mark. “We want to attract great team members and keep them for the long term. Anything we can do to improve the work experience will help us compete for talent.”
State-of-the art systems, including one of the industry’s most advanced order-picking trucks, help make Cutter & Buck a great place to work.
“The UNEX racking system helps us create a more efficient, accurate and safer pick environment than a traditional setting. New employees see that, and it gives us a competitive advantage,” says Mark.
With the big boost in pick rates provided by Span-Track wheel beds, Cutter & Buck has the tools in place go above and beyond its performance goals. Studies show that pick rates jump by up to 150% with Span-Track wheel beds compared to traditional pallet picks.
Overall, the company’s strategy to create a high-tech, high-performing distribution center is working well. “We are exceeding our original targets for the new center and will plan to expand two to three years sooner than expected,” says Mark. “The UNEX racking has played an important role in helping us achieve aggressive targets.”
Distributor: 3D Storage Solutions Limited
Improved Order Fulfillment Layout & Picking System, Best Volume Ever For Parts DC
How a total efficiency overhaul by W.W. Cannon led to a distribution conglomerate’s best volume month ever
Sometimes, the space you have just isn’t enough. When it’s time to move into a bigger facility, W.W. Cannon can get the customer outfitted, upgraded and ready to go. Here’s one example of a large client making an even larger move in their operations.
W.W. Cannon had a large maintenance and repair operations (MRO) parts manufacturing and distribution conglomerate customer located in Greenville, Texas. They have an annual revenue of more than $1 billion in sales providing items such as consumables (cleaning, labratory or office equipment), industrial equipment (compressors, pumps, valves) and plant upkeep supplies (gaskets, lubricants, repair tools) as well as computers, fixtures, furniture and more.
Move Operations to New Warehouse 55 Miles Away, Outfit New Warehouse for Increased Productivity Due to an explosive growth in operations, the MRO conglomerate needed to double their facility square footage. But even at their size, money matters, and the company didn’t want to throw away anything from the previous facility that could be utilized.
New Distribution Center Layout While Repurposing as Much from the Previous Warehouse as Possible.
Order Picking System, Zoned Accumulation Conveyor, Custom Layout Pallet Rack, Carton Flow Rack, Closed Steel Shelving and Modular In-Plant Office.
The process of moving operations was a 30 to 60 day process, with the physical move taking place over a single weekend. But as W.W. Cannon Automotive Specialist Rode Chambers points out, it starts and ends with quality communication.
“This was a very fluid project and it changed quite often,” says Chambers. “We did several walkthroughs, and once a week we would confirm what exactly we would be moving or installing. It was very much a back-and-forth process, and at the height of it we had daily interactions. If I wasn’t there every day, I was there at least a couple of times a week.”
The transition itself was very smooth, with existing equipment being used to complement the new distribution solutions.
“There was enough equipment left in the old facility that we were able to move some of it to accommodate them in their new facility – which saved them a substantial amount of money,” says Chambers. “A portion of their existing conveyor was moved and used to complete the new conveyor system. What could be saved as far as pallet racks goes, we took down and put back up.”
The total integrated solution included warehouse consultation, a more efficient distribution and pick system design, pallet rack storage system with custom design for forklift drive through tunnel, carton flow racking, conveyor system, inventory shelving, large overhead HVLS (high velocity low speed) fans, certified equipment installation, as well as preventative maintenance and repairs on all existing dock doors to ensure proper working condition.
“One reason they went with W.W. Cannon is they had a local, hand’son manager – which was me in this particular case – that worked hand-in-hand with their people to complete the project.”
The Best Month on Record for a $1 Billion-Plus Conglomerate
The goal of the new, double-sized facility was to increase productivity and volume to meet the exploding demands of the MRO conglomerate’s own customers. Thanks to W.W. Cannon, those goals were both met and exceeded.
“The driving reason behind the new facility was to increase production and distribution, and I know that January of 2019 – their first month up and running in the new facility – was the best month that the company has ever had in terms of volume,” says Chambers.
The story doesn’t end there. Post-installation, W.W. Cannon was called upon once again.
“After we had completed the project, there was room in their budget for additional equipment and controls enhancements – another bay of pallet rack was installed and automatic stops were added for the conveyor system. In the big picture very minor things, but when those things were needed, W.W. Cannon was ready to go,” says Chambers.
The installation was such a success, in fact, that the MRO conglomerate immediately hired W.W. Cannon to help them refit their former facility for a sister company.
“We build very open partnerships with our clients,” says Chambers. “And because of the trust our MRO client invests in us, we were able to outfit them with exactly what they needed to be successful. They expect that from us – which is a big part of why they keep coming back.”
Distributor: W.W. Cannon
Supplier: Roach Conveyors, Rousseau Metal, Interlake Mecalux
A Sweet Solution for Seattle Chocolates
Seattle Chocolates has been creating all natural products since 1991. Owned and led by CEO Jean Thompson, they have a true passion for chocolate. They are committed to using honest ingredients to create premium chocolates with a local flavor.
The team at Seattle Chocolates also realizes the importance of community and have programs aimed at giving back both locally and to programs across the United States. In the spirit of building a strong relationship with the community, Seattle Chocolate offers tours of their facility so customers can see first-hand how their chocolate is made. When the team at Seattle Chocolates decided to revamp their facility in order to improve tours for visitors, they turned to DACO, based out of Kent, WA, to help find a solution.
Meeting Compliance Codes while Maintaining Aesthetic Appeal
Since this is an active facility where all of the company’s chocolates are produced, special design considerations were required in order to maintain SQF compliance.
Integrating Design and Function
The teams at Daco and Cubic Designs were able to meet all SQF requirements by integrating modular walls with the mezzanine system which allowed separation between the production area and areas where tour guests will walk.
Elevated Viewing and Exceeded Expectations!
The mezzanine is used as an observation walkway for plant tours. After exiting a receiving area, the tour group is led out to the plant and directly up the stairway onto the platform. Along the length of the mezzanine are multiple viewing “portals” which have been integrated with the mezzanine and allow for videos and presentations to be shown explaining the functions of different parts of the plant. The tour finishes at the end of the mezzanine which is in the actual production area. According to Jean Thompson, the mezzanine project “more than exceeded our expectations, and our standards are really high!”
Distributor: DACO Corporation
Supplier: Cubic Designs
Wells Fargo Needed Secure Partitions Inside Their Office
Ryan Companies, a well-respected 75-year-old design build contractor in Minneapolis, was looking for a wire partition that would provide top security for Wells Fargo but also be aesthetically pleasing in an office environment. Ryan prefers to work with local companies so they contacted Star Equipment, a material handling company also in Minneapolis. Star Equipment had the solution, they contacted WireCrafters, one of their partners for over twenty years.
Wells Fargo required multiple wire mesh partition cages within their downtown facility. Two cages were used to protect entering the computer server rooms. Several additional cages were used to control access to both financial and confidential information. WireCrafters offers a variety of secure meshes. The standard mesh is a ten-gauge wire woven into a 2” x 1” rectangular style. Star Equipment was informed that a much more secure mesh would be needed. Wells Fargo decided to stay with the ten-gauge wire but with a much tighter 3/4” square mesh. This tighter mesh has been used by pharmaceutical companies to control access to small pill bottles and also by distributors of small liquor bottles used by the airline industry. In addition to the tight mesh they also required white paint as opposed to the industrial gray color. WireCrafters has a state of the art powder coat system and stocks white paint along with seven other common paint colors.
What appeared to be a very difficult request by most standards turned out to be a simple one for WireCrafters. A variety of mesh sizes and paint colors are stocked in their manufacturing facility in Louisville, KY.
To watch a YouTube video of this case study, visit https://bit.ly/2ONiHtl
Distributor: Star Equipment
Consolidating Frozen Storage to Optimize Growth and Logistics
When transferring product among four inter-company locations for production, frozen storage, and repacking became costly and inefficient, Coloma Frozen Foods needed to consolidate its frozen storage capacity. As a food industry provider of quality frozen fruits, vegetables, juices, and cherry juice concentrates, the company had previously outsourced its frozen storage to commercial facilities spread over a 20-mile radius in southwest Michigan.
To optimize its growth and logistics, Coloma Frozen Foods chose to build 90,000 sq. ft. of new freezer space, including 75,000 sq. ft. of racked freezer space in a new centralized campus facility. Looking to maximize frozen storage efficiency and repacking capability, company president Brad Wendzel turned to Southwest Docking and Handling, a material handling and automated systems distributor, and Steel King Industries, a storage system and pallet rack manufacturer.
The companies suggested drive-in rack for its cost-effective, high-density storage capacity.
Drive-in rack enables storing up to 75% more pallets than selective racking and is ideal for high-traffic and cooler/freezer installations.
“We expect to save about $150,000 to $200,000 a year in reduced labor, management, transportation, energy, and maintenance costs” says Wendzel. “We expect ROI in under two years.”
“In freezer applications, the rack is susceptible to forklift impact because reaction time is slower in a cold environment, and peripheral vision can be restricted when operators are bundled up against the cold,” says Wendzel. “So rack durability, longevity, easeof-use and safety were vital to us.”
Wendzel was concerned that the industry’s typical, light gauge, rollformed rack would be prone to forklift damage and costly replacement.
Southwest Docking and Handling recommended and Coloma Frozen Foods chose SK3000® pallet rack, a rugged bolted rack with structural channel columns, by Steel King. Several rack features helped the company meet its strength, durability, and maintenance goals.
Compared to typical racking, pallet rack constructed of hot-rolled structural channel column with full horizontal and diagonal bracing offers greater frame strength, durability and cross-sectional area. A heavy 7-gauge wrap-around connector plate ensures a square and plumb installation with a tighter connection and greater moment resistance.
“Over 23,000,000 lbs. of frozen product are stored in (our) freezer and rack space, including 9,000 pallet positions of 4” structural c-channel drive-in rack, says Wendzel. The rack is five levels high including a floor level, and arrayed from two to five pallet positions deep for both storage efficiency and an ability to accommodate a range of SKUs.”
“With the drive-in rack’s efficient frozen storage, we’ve consolidated our operations on one campus and aim to double our re-pack capability,” says Wendzel. “The interest and amortization of our new facility is less than what we paid for commercial storage.”
Compared to typical rack, the drivein rack includes a number of features that enhance ease-of-use and safety. According to Southwest Docking and Handling’s President Jim Nowicki, the drive-in load rail construction includes: flared rail entry ends for easy bay access; low profile arms that increase clearance and decrease possible product damage; structural angle rails that “guide” pallets for ease of use; welded aisle side load arms that eliminate hazardous load projections into aisles; and welded rail stops that prevent loads from being pushed off.
For added protection against forklift impact, a tire rub rail was mounted near the floor to guide the vehicle safely into the rack. All uprights and columns also have oversized baseplates for greater rack stability.
“The efficient frozen storage of our drive-in rack has been key in helping us to expand, cut cost, and improve safety” concludes Wendzel.
Distributor: Southwest Docking and Handling
Supplier: Steel King
CC-EFI Helps OwensBrockaway Revitalize a 100-Year-Old Plant
A group of twelve men invested their life savings in opening a glass bottle plant. On October 14, 1907, the first bottles were produced in Brockway, PA. One hundred years later, OwensBrockway is still producing their award-winning bottles in Plant 18.
Owens-Brockway Facilities Engineers were tasked with increasing production capacity and generally modernizing the facility. This became more of a challenge as most building produced at the turn of the century are littered with building columns on very tight centers; creating a “forest” of wood columns. With the help from the experienced solutions engineers at Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry, the team was able to snake and weave conveyors through the forest of “yellow trees.”
Owens-Brockway Engineers wanted to use as much of the existing conveyor as possible, in order to reduce cost and reduce overall site impact. The existing system was predominately composed of v-belt driven live roller conveyor. V-belt drive conveyor comes in very few lengths, due to its design. This caused a need for special sized curves and tangents. Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry, in partnership with its manufacturers, was able to design and precisely manufacture the necessary components.
In keeping with modernization, overall power consumption by the conveyor was reduced. Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry engineers designed the new conveyors to be slave driven whenever possible, reducing the number of motors, therefore the amount of power consumed.
Hytrol conveyors were used to match the existing conveyors, not only for look and feel, but for spare parts and maintenance sake. Owens-Brockway Plant #18 recently celebrated their centennial and with the help of these new conveyors, palletizers and bottle making equipment, they hope to have an even better second century of premier bottle manufacturing.
Hytrol and R.H. Brown Help Pacific Coast Cherry Packers
Pacific Coast Cherry Packers (PCCP) is located in the heart of fruit country in the Pacific Northwest. The operation grows, harvests and delivers millions of pounds of cherries worldwide. As a division of Sage Fruit Company, PCCP farms thousands of acres of orchards throughout Washington and Oregon.
“PCCP was started as a partnership between a group of cherry growers,” said Peter Verbrugge, President of Sage Fruit Company. “We needed to install new technology on a cherry packing line about 10 years ago, and so we got together and invested together in this new technology. That new technology allowed the company to keep up with its efficient and effective growing methods. PCCP ships around 1 million boxes of cherries in a good season. In 2017, the company sought to update its material handling system to automate the case flow of pre-packaged cherries and accommodate future production line volume. Hytrol and RH Brown provided a solution.
“Our last equipment upgrade was about nine years ago,” said Verbrugge, “and technology had advanced in a couple areas—primarily in the sorting technology. And so to reduce labor costs, as those have been dramatically increasing, we needed to invest in new technology to try and just keep those from growing out of control. So, that’s what drove us towards the remodel and investing in new technology.”
PCCP uses cases to convey cherries quickly during peak season. Cherries must be harvested, packed and on a retailer’s shelf in a matter of days. The solution needed to be cost effective, utilizing Sage’s existing material handling equipment while creating a robust sortation system that could handle the increasing throughput rates and number of SKUs.
Because of a project on Sage Fruit’s apple picking line, Verbrugge knew he wanted to utilize Hytrol’s accumulation conveyor. The company soon found an integration partner that could implement the system.
“When we looked at implementing this new technology, we knew that Hytrol was good equipment,” said Verbrugge. “But to be serviced locally and to have people who understand our industry and be able to design a plan that will work for us, execute it, and service it, we needed a very strong integration partner that could come in and be able to implement Hytrol into our packing system.”
“The design of the packing line was to have the throughput to be at least similar and no less than what we had before, but also with the ability to increase the throughput with just some smaller incremental investments,” he said.
Cases at PCCP are manually inducted into two lines with five merge points each. Using logic to control the pressure of the product, individual break meters release cases into the takeaway lines and into the stampers. They’re then consolidated into a single line using a 2-to-1 merge and travel into the sortation area. In the sorter, cases are justified, gapped, scanned, tracked and diverted into their assigned lanes, where they are palletized and prepared for shipping.
“It’s very important that everything is running, and there’s multiple pieces of equipment that have to be communicating with each other, adjusting the electronic eyes for fruit flow, and all of those things I cannot slow down, because if I lose an hour packing cherries, I don’t get that hour back,” said Verbrugge. “Downtime is really detrimental to me, so it’s very important that we have a good supplier who can step in with a good plan, and be able to execute it and follow up with service.”
PCCP spent time researching systems and partners in the industry before choosing the Hytrol integration partner, RH Brown Company.
A supplier’s reputation can very quickly be substantiated by the work they’ve done in the past, he said.
“I look at dependability. I look at service, reliability in terms of them being able to follow through with what they say they can do, and also [do so] on a budget—so that people can come in on time, on budget and back up what they do with reliable service,” says Peter Verbrugge
The relationship between Hytrol and RH Brown spans back over 50 years and 3 generations. The shared focus on service between the PCCP growers, Hytrol and RH Brown was a natural fit.
“It’s their reputation in our industry and in this valley that they’ve been able to build upon their business, and that’s why it was chosen—it just wasn’t on price, it was on service and quality. And that’s how I build my business, is on service and quality to my customers in my fruit and I understand that, so I look to that in my suppliers.”
Distributor: R.H. Brown